Kernersville History: The Bodenhamer Story
By Kelly Hargett
On Jan. 27, 1889, Grover C. Bodenhamer was born to parents Jacob F. Bodenhamer and Emma J. Bodenhamer of Kernersville. We know that by 1910, Grover was listed as a laborer on the railroad, and he was still living with his father. In 1913, we found a Grover Bodenhamer listed as a waiter at the Star Café in Winston Salem. This makes sense, in that on May 24, 1917, Grover C. Bodenhamer registered for the draft. The US entered World War I on April 6, 1917. On his draft card, Grover stated that he was a “salad man” at the Clarke Hotel.
It did not take long for Grover’s number to get pulled, and on September 18, 1917, Grover reported to his local board for military duty. He is listed as a Private First Class in the US Army in the 321st Infantry [i.e. The Wildcats], Company D. We know that Grover is listed on the passenger list of the Walmar Castle on July 31, 1918 as he sailed off to War, where he arrived in France on August 16, 1918. He was released from the Army on May 6, 1919.
According to the 1920 census, Grover now worked for his father as a salesman at the grocery store. Grover married Ida Angel in 1923, and just over a month after their wedding, Grover purchased a lot of land from his father on Armfield Street. In 1924 he purchased yet another lot, adjoining the first lot on Armfield Street. The 1930 census listed Grover as a salesman at the grocery store. In 1935, he purchased the property and the store on Main Street from his father. According to the 1940 census, Grover is listed as the proprietor of the grocery store, where he worked 70 hours per week. Looking closely at the picture of the grocery store from 1941, Grover offered gasoline, hot sandwiches, cold drinks, cigarettes, and ice cream! Although the main level was used for a grocery store, the top level was used as a boarding house. The basement is the only one on North Main Street that still has the original coal chute. The chute would have been used when coal was delivered to the building for heat during the colder months. Although the building has been renovated over the years, the coal chute is still intact. Grover C. Bodenhamer died on December 1, 1979 at the age of 90. We like to believe he was a wildcat until the end. The Bodenhamer family owned the property on Main Street until 1981. Today, H&R Block occupies the building that once housed Grover Bodenhamer’s Grocery Store. What was once used as a boarding house upstairs has now been converted to apartments by the current owners.
*Excerpt from Haunted Kernersville
If you are interested in learning more Kernersville History, the Museum is open Tuesday through Friday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. You can pick up your own copy of Haunted Kernersville inside the Museum or visit our website at www.kernersvillemuseum.org/shopmuseum.